January 2009
Ministry of Wardens

Wardens: chief stewards and servants

“Warden” means “steward” or “guardian,” and wardens are the chief stewards and servants
of their congregations. Wardens have a special and public ministry, and must lead by example as faithful churchgoers and visible donors of time, talent and treasure. They must be willing to listen, able to delegate, and, above all, able to engender trust in relationships with the rector and the congregation.

National church and diocesan canons and parish bylaws govern the roles of clergy, wardens and vestries, but do not provide detailed requirements. What wardens actually do can vary from one congregation to another, from one set of circumstances to another, and even from one individual to another. This flexibility allows a rector and a vestry to adapt to the differing gifts that successive wardens bring to their ministries.

Wardens have four types of responsibilities: 

legal responsibilities with regard to

  • property and contracts
  • fiduciary responsibilities
  • responsibilities to the congregation
  • responsibilities to the rector (and other clergy)
Above all, successful ministry as a warden depends on keeping oneself spiritually and physically whole. Wardens need to take time to nourish themselves and call upon the talents of other members of the congregation to get things done. While challenges may stretch the patience and tax the time and spirit of a warden, this ministry should be one of fulfillment and gratification.

Reprinted with permission from the Diocese of Washington.

This article is part of the January 2009 Vestry Papers issue on Ministry of Wardens